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To clean or not to clean...

That IS the question. If you call any coin shop in the nation and say, "I've got a bunch of old coins, should I polish them up before I bring them in?", the coin dealer will undoubtedly tell you, NO! And in this case, I would agree. However, I am one of the few dealers / collectors that encourages collectors to learn HOW to clean coins.

A dealer once told me that he 'lightly touches up' about 75% of the coins that come through his door. Another dealer friend told me he spends a few hours a week 'reconditioning' his recent purchases, but he doesn't clean them. Well, call it what you will, but cleaning a coin is cleaning a coin. If you learn what you are doing, most dealers will not know that you even touched it. I've even heard a stroy from a dealer who cleaned a coin, sold it, and then bought it back not realizing until later that he had actually cleaned that same exact coin!

Ancient Coin Cleaning

There is one type of coin that is perfectly acceptable to clean, Ancient coins. With thousands of years of dirt and grime encrusted on to these coins, it is usually impossible to tell what the coin is until the coin has undergone some aggressive and sometimes harsh cleaning.

 

Coin Cleaning

In the future, this section will contain techniques from both first hand experience and common industry practices.